Tags: bandcamp, digital music distribution, experimental, free music, illegal downloading, Music, music distribution, piracy, scholarship, unemployed
(Obligatory artist marketing message: you should buy some copies of my album for the holidays, by the way, or for future all-purpose gifts, or for yourself! At Bandcamp.com you get an instant DRM-free download even if you order the physical CD, at Amazon.com you can get super saver shipping. Plus it’s on iTunes and CDBaby and other places. Help an indie artist out and DO IT!)
And now that my album’s released I’m confronting this problem that I think a lot of artists face. Other artists might not know they face it, but since I talk with my fans all day on social media I’m acutely aware of it. Here’s how it goes:
ACT I SCENE I
Longtime Devoted Fan: OMG MARIAN I LOVE YOUR NEW ALBUM! It’s everything you promised!
Marian: Here, buy a copy! I made it for you since you’ve been so supportive and friendly and awesome!
L.D.F.: Um…..well….I am gonna do that FIRST THING when I get a job again. Or pay off my ridiculous health care costs. Or get my kids shoes that don’t hurt their feet. Or I’ll beg for it for a gift. Because…. [L.D.F. switches to private message or e-mail] …..I kind of really can’t afford it right now. Or anytime soon. At this time my money is for food, not music.
Marian: But……but I made it for you. Take it for free! You’ve always been there for me!
Chorus of the Ghosts of Indie Musicians: But isn’t that devaluing your art? Not to mention contributing to this awful Race To The Bottom that will undermine our economy and bankrupt hardworking artists? Where will this end? With all of us giving up our dreams and becoming insurance adjusters? Shaaaaame ooooon yoooooou.
Credit Card Company + Hospital, in unison: Hey, Marian? About these monthly bills —
L.D.F.: They’re right! Your music is worth money and I support you! So I refuse to download it like a piratey pirate! Also I’m gonna go cry into my ramen now.
Marian: Me too. Into my ramen though, not yours.
EXEUNT L.D.F., Chorus, Bill Collectors. Marian is left alone; she crosses DSC. Lighting cue: follow spot.
Marian: [heavy sigh] If only I could give away my music to folks who are out of work or strapped for cash – without contributing to the problematic modern mindset that art for free is OK!
ENTER Donors’ Circle, fast & awkward, Kramer-style, wearing superhero costume. D.C. Leaps into follow spot with a flourish.
Donors’ Circle: I’m here to help with that!
It’s a fact that a lot of people I love are struggling financially right now. And asking them to buy my music feels kinda crass. But withholding music from people I love also feels yucky. I have been there, and I needed music then more than ever to get through it. Some of the most important albums of my life that helped me survive is stuff I ripped from friends when I had nothing BUT music.
SO! On the recommendation of a brilliant member of the Donors’ Circle, I thought I would try something a little different. Below you’ll find an application for a sort of scholarship program — I’m calling it the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund, since I’m not sure what the legal ramifications of actually calling it a scholarship might be. This program means you can get a legit digital copy of the album for free if you can’t afford it — but an anonymous donor will be paying for it. SO! Free to you, but still paid for, and therefore not without value.
Does this make sense?
I hope it works, at least for a few of you. We’ll run it through December 31st, 2011, and if there’s more interest, possibly longer. We’ll need two groups of people: folks who want to get/give the album but can’t afford it, and folks who want to fund the project. [Note, April 2013 : it’s still running! Just be sure to email us if you fill out a form!]
If you apply, you’ll get the music & liner notes at no cost to you, but I will ask you for something — I’ll ask you to join the mailing list, tell someone about the album, leave a review, or come to a concert. And I’ll try to make it really easy to do that.
*Note: you are welcome to apply and give the album as a gift. I know some of you said you would give the album as a holiday or birthday gift, but you can’t afford to buy it (or buy an extra copy). And you’re too honorable to rip & burn it for free — you blessed few — so here, this is your chance. Get the download code, write it on a paper heart, put it in a little origami box made out of brown bags and gold stars, and give it to someone for a holiday/birthday/specialness present. (Ooh, and use googly eyes. You can never have enough gold stars and googly eyes on a present. It’s all about presentation, and good presentation can be cheap.)
I’m into solutions and this seems like a solution. Thank you, Donors’ Circle, for coming up with this one. And thanks to you who are funding it, either one album or dozens – this is the coolest thing ever.
DETAILS AND STUFF:
If you’re interested in applying for an album, to keep or to give away, just fill out the Pseudo-Scholarship Fund form below — you can also find it at this link here. You should hear from us within 2-3 business days to either give you your download code & congratulations, or to let you know you’re on a waiting list. [Update from April 2013: send us an email if you apply at email@example.com, so we know you have entered your info!]
If you’re interested in funding an album for someone like L.D.F., you can send money via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org and make a note that it’s for the Psuedo-Scholarship Fund. $15 pays for one album; you can send that amount right now if you want by clicking here. Or send an e-mail if you want to pay by some other method than Paypal, I’m more than happy to arrange that. We’ll be in touch within two or three business days to confirm we’ve applied the money where it’s supposed to go, and to express our thanks.
Acceptance of applicants will be at our discretion, but if you apply (and you’re not rude and you answer all the questions) you’ll probably be accepted, and if you’re accepted and there are funds in the account, you’ll be sent a digital download of the album, which includes a PDF of the gorgeous liner notes. And we’ll add you to the Marian Call e-mail list, and possibly ask you to share/review the album or do some other small thing like that to pay it forward.
Let us know if you encounter any hitches (the most common involves our messages to you going to a spam filter). Questions & observations can go to email@example.com.
Go to it!